A former software engineer, John Coogan says that programmers are often pondering ways to “automate ourselves out of a job.” Coogan, who in 2013 co-founded fast-growing meal replacement products brand Soylent, has a similar perspective when it comes to entrepreneurship. In a recent interview featured in this week’s episode of Taste Radio, Coogan, who recently stepped down as Soylent’s CTO, said that “as entrepreneurs, we should be thinking about how we can manage ourselves out of a job.”
Amid the brand’s ongoing expansion from direct-to-consumer sales and into retail stores, Coogan explained that it was important for Soylent, “to find people that are essentially the right tool for the job… and that have seen these challenges before.” In recent months the company has brought on several experienced CPG executives, including former KeVita chief strategy officer Bryan Crowley as president, to support its retail expansion.
Coogan also discussed how Soylent’s e-commerce-only model enabled the company “to start collecting data on who our customer was, as well as get product in their hands much faster.” Perhaps most importantly, the business strategy presented Soylent with a streamlined path to retail.
“You’ll have customers that can actually go and drive adoption at retail stores because they’ve heard about you online,” he said. “In a world where there are ever more brands pitching Whole Foods and every other traditional retailer, having a book of customers online that will advocate for you to the buyer really sets you apart and can actually act as a tailwind as you go and take on that extremely challenging task of being successful in retail.”
Also included in this episode: a conversation with influential food and lifestyle blogger Olivia Ku. Ku, who has a following of nearly 200,000 users on Instagram, spoke about how brands can best interact with influencers and why successful partnerships require a true sense of “added value” for both parties. And in this week’s Elevator Talk, we spoke with Shayne Malone, who is the founder and CEO of Zavu, a brand of cold-pressed, HPP juices made from indigenous Brazilian fruits.
0:57: Reminders, Upcoming Deadlines: Deadline to apply for Brewbound Session’s Startup Brewery Challenge is today. BevNET Live’s New Beverage Showdown 14 and the NOSH Live Pitch Slam is a week from today on Nov. 10, 2017. Sponsorship opportunities for all three events are still available.
2:24: WEED Deal: The hosts discuss the Constellation Brands’ recent acquisition of a 9.9 percent stake in cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corporation for $191 million. Constellation, which makes and markets a variety of well-known beer, wine and spirits products, including Corona, Ballast Point and High West, said that the deal is aimed at developing and marketing cannabis-infused beverages that do not contain alcohol. John Craven notes that Constellation is preparing for the gold rush into legal marijuana, assuming relaxed regulation is forthcoming. Jon Landis discusses how current cannabis-infused beverage brands are wading into the market and educating consumers about dosages.
11:15: Interview: John Coogan, Co-Founder, Soylent — John Coogan is a co-founder of Soylent and served as Soylent’s CTO until stepping down a few months ago. He recently sat down with John and Mike for a conversation about his role with the company and how Soylent, which until recently has been as been sold exclusively online, is positioning itself for massive growth at retail. For new brand owners, listen to why Coogan views direct-to-consumer as “super important for early-stage food and beverage companies.”
39:18: Interview: Olivia Ku, Founder, LoveHealthOK: Mike Schneider recently met with highly influential food and lifestyle blogger Olivia Ku. In a conversation recorded at the offices of Califia Farms in downtown L.A., Ku explained her path to becoming a social media guru and offered advice on how brands can most effectively engage influencers.
59:45: Elevator Talk: Shane Malone, Founder/CEO, Zavu: Shayne Malone is the founder and CEO of Zavu, a brand of cold-pressed, HPP juices made from indigenous Brazilian fruits, including caju, acerola and cupuacu. Malone spoke with the Taste Radio team at Expo East 2017 about his upstart brand and the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead.
Brands in this episode: Dixie Elixirs, Soylent, Califia Farms, Zavu
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